That sounds confusing. Let me explain. When I went to college and I wasn't living with cats 24/7, my allergy pretty much went away. Even when I went home to visit my parents (and cats), I found I wasn't reaching for my inhaler nearly as much. Naturally, I was thrilled — it seemed like I had grown out of my cat allergy once and for all. So a few years later when I decided to adopt kittens of my own, it never crossed my mind that it might come back.
Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. A few days into life with my 7-week-old tabby kittens, I found I was once again reaching for my inhaler several times a day. On top of that, I had itchy eyes and couldn't stop sneezing — symptoms I'd never really experienced before in connection with cats. So I promptly made an appointment with a recommended allergist to figure out a solution.
To make a long story short, my appointment with this allergist was not great. He ran a whole slew of tests on me, told me what I already knew (that I was allergic to cats) and put me on a more long-term asthma control medication (Advair). While none of that sounds terrible, it's what he kept insisting that put me off. He repeated over and over that I should just get rid of the "allergen" as he put it, otherwise I'd have to be on medication until said "allergen" was no longer around. I found it very difficult to make him understand that my cats are more than allergens, they're family.
I'm sure many of you have pets about which you feel similarly. They are more than just an obstacle in the way of good health, and a doctor who doesn't see that is missing the bigger picture. I'm not saying there aren't circumstances where, unfortunately, the only solution is to find a new home for a cat, but more often than not, that is not the case. I came to this doctor to help me manage an allergy in order to keep my cats, and all he heard was, "I have pets that are causing this allergy."
Thankfully, I happened to have a friend who is an allergist and doing an immunology fellowship. She was far more empathetic. She had some wonderful tips for anyone with a mild to moderate cat allergy who wants to make living with cats work. Here are her best pointers.
Some people can actually become immune to their pets through repeated exposure. While I am still muddling through my allergies at times, I'm finding I need my inhaler less than I did six months ago, and I rarely need to take antihistamines anymore.
I may never be entirely allergy-free around my cats, but for me, they are worth a little occasional discomfort. If you feel the same, find a doctor who understands your commitment to your pet, and come up with an allergy management plan that works for you. Just remember, it's totally doable, and you'll have a fluffy feline to thank you for it.
And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .
SheKnows is making some changes!